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Vocal Conservatory

When you are serious about singing, get serious vocal training from the technical teachers behind the Emmy®-winning and Grammy®-nominated Philadelphia Boys Choir and Philadelphia Girls Choir. The Philadelphia Vocal Conservatory is open to the public for voice instruction.  Our vocal instructors are adept at teaching all ages, genders, and levels of singers.

Weekly lessons can be arranged for 30, 45, or 60 minutes and may cover a variety of repertoire, from opera to art song to musical theater and from the classical to the modern era. Faculty guide each student through an individualized curriculum designed to develop musical, vocal technical and performance skills. PVC also provides performance opportunities, including recitals and masterclasses.

To arrange lessons with any of our teachers, email Michael Ashby at mashby@pbgcsings.org.


About Michael Ashby, Director of the Vocal Conservatory, Voice Teacher

Michael Ashby

Michael Ashby earned his Masters of Operatic performance from New Jersey City University and his Bachelor of Science in Music Performance from Indiana State University.  In addition to our vocal conservatory, he maintains a voice studio at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.  Michael serves as the vocal technical teacher for the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale and Philadelphia Girls Choir.

For many years he has directed opera, musical theater and choir camp programs.  His previous camps were directed at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and for Philadelphia International Music Festival in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. 

Michael works with and owes his continued singing and teaching to his teacher, David L. Jones of New York.


Maria Russo

About Maria Russo, Voice Teacher

Maria Russo, the acclaimed American soprano, first came to international attention in 1984.  She won the prestigious German Radio (ARD) Music Competition in Munich, Germany. As a result, she made radio recordings with the Radio Orchestras of Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Hamburg. She then became a member of the ensemble at the Stuttgart State Opera in Germany. Still a student, Miss Russo was the first place winner of the East and West Artists competition. She was awarded a New York debut recital in Carnegie Hall, earning her a glowing review from the New York Times. The American soprano earned a MM in Voice Performance at Northwestern University and studied at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. Her important teachers were Eva Illes, Nancy Williams and Elizabeth Fischer.


Cynthia Balme

About Cynthia Balme, Voice Teacher

Cynthia Balme started her career in opera as a soprano, being best known for her portrayals of Verdi. Her roles included Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera, Violetta in La Traviata, the title role in Aida, and Desdemona in Otello.  Cynthia garnered critical acclaim for her vocal technical command of Verdi’s early works including the New York premiere of Helene in Jerusalem at Carnegie Hall, Giselda in I Lombardi, Abigaille in Nabucco, the title role in New York stage premiere of Alzira, Mina in Arnoldo, and Eboli in the French version of Don Carlo.  Cynthia also sang the New York premiere of Verdi’s Ave Maria for soprano and strings at Lincoln Center.   

Cynthia received her degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music and the Boyer College of Music, Temple University.  She received her professional training from Armen Boyajian, and currently works with David L. Jones.  In her work with David, he guided her to her authentic voice as a mezzo-soprano! 

Together with her husband John Balme, Cynthia co-directs the Brookdale Concordia Chorale.   Cynthia is an adjunct professor of voice at Brookdale Community College and maintains a private voice studio in Middletown, NJ.


Emily Tiberi

About Emily Tiberi, Voice Teacher

Thrilled to join PGC’s voice faculty, Emily Tiberi, soprano, loves the voice and everything about it. Professionally, she has been a chorister, opera & musical theater singer, choral director, vocal & choral accompanist, church musician, voice lecturer, and teacher of both private and group lessons. She received her Masters of Music from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where she studied with Lauren Athey-Janka. She was also the graduate assistant for the Presser Voice Lab and got to play with all the medical grade voice equipment and help students and faculty with voice-related research projects. Some of her favorite past musical experiences include: 

·       Singing Joby Talbot’s Path of Miracles with Westminster Choir at Spoleto Festival 2019 

·       Singing Handel’s Messiah 8 times in one week with the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra with Westminster Symphonic Choir 

·       Premiering the role of Princess Peach in a short comic opera: I fratelli Mario (about, you guessed it, the video game) 

She is currently serving as Adjunct Faculty at Rowan University and teaches for the Rowan Community Music School


Elisabeth Pirolli

About Elisabeth Pirolli, Voice & Piano Teacher

Elisabeth is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in Vocal Music Education. She teaches private piano and voice lessons at Resonance School of Music as well as the Philadelphia Vocal Conservatory and is the Music Director at Holy Angels Parish in New Jersey. She has a great deal of experience as a church musician at several Catholic churches in the Southern New Jersey area. She also has experience teaching private lessons, workshops, classes, and leading rehearsals. Elisabeth has studied voice with Karen Huffstodt, Lauren Athey-Janka, and Melissa Daniels-McCann. She has also studied piano with Ellen Youssefian, Arlene Ezekiel, and Lydia Boguslavsky.  Elisabeth started piano lessons at the age of 8 and has loved music ever since. She truly enjoys sharing her love for and knowledge of music with others.


To arrange lessons with any of our teachers, email Michael Ashby at mashby@pbgcsings.org.


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